Ten years ago, while visiting 2 of my college children who were both studying in Italy, a heart-changing conversation took place: “Mom when I introduce you to my friends, and they ask what you do, you talk about giving workshops. Why don’t you tell them what you really do?” my daughter wondered.
What I really do! It’s true I give workshops but only a couple times a year. What I do is homeschool, try to manage a household, sort, clean, pick-up… constantly pick-up, carpool, and try to figure out what’s for supper.
“Would they want to hear what I really do?” I asked. But as we continued to talk I realized a deeper problem had set in, a weariness, a lack of fervor in being a mother, a pulling away from my responsibilities at home. Many women I know are at a new stage in life, empty nesters and they seem to be on interesting ventures, and here I am after 18 years of home educating about to start teaching little Emma kindergarten.
While the school year had been a full and beautiful one, it was almost over, and I was tired. Raising children is demanding with sacrifice and cost. But still, the problem went deeper; could it be I was shying away from my vocation? Could it be the grass looked not only greener on the other side, but immaculately mowed and weed free? As my husband and two oldest children shared this conversation in the restaurant, I began to cry.
“Guys, I’ve been homeschooling a long time, maybe I want to do something else, maybe Emma and Margaret will just go to school.” Recognizing my state, Pete, Jim and Beth spoke words of affirmation that brought my tears down full force, “Mom do you know how much we love you? Do you know how grateful we are for what you gave us? Do you know how proud we are of you and the work you do? Mom, don’t give up! What you do is so important, it is so important for Emma and Margaret, John, Phil and Nick. Mom, keep going! You are doing the most important work. Mom tell me any work you could do that would be more important?”
Wow, I was not expecting our Italian restaurant experience to take the kind of turn it was taking and I was also not anticipating that we would make the kind of scene we were making!
Their words of affirmation were like a sword that pierced my heart allowing weariness to exit and truth and healing to enter in. I was stirred to persevere, to press on, and to continue home educating with new vigor.
Looking back, I think of the day when I was leaving Mass with six of the kids in tow. The time at Mass had been a struggle. Some of my boys were teasing their sister. Margaret fell off the pew and wailed. I was discouraged and embarrassed by the kid's behavior. As I headed to the car, Evie Bedard, a woman in her 80’s must have sensed my discouragement. She stopped me with a prophetic word.
“Marcie, you will look back at these days as some of the happiest in your life.”
At home I pondered her words, they helped me relax and enjoy my children in a new way.I put up yellow post-it notes to remind myself to laugh each day with each child. It was for my own sake. These were happy days and I wanted to enjoy them.
The years go fast; children don’t stay little long. Embrace each day that is given, and one day, sooner than you realize, you will look back with fondness on those happy days when you had the privilege to homeschool.
- Marcie Stokman